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"My work wasn't ever going to be to make the reader feel comfortable" - Máire Fisher discusses her latest novel with Tiah Beautement

Published in the Sunday Times

The Enumerations ****
Máire Fisher, Umuzi, R280

Máire Fisher has followed her successful debut novel, Birdseye, with the polished The Enumerations.

The story explores 17-year-old Noah Groome, who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and how he impacts his family, friends and the people he encounters in rehab after a school bully pushes him too far.

The most impressive aspect of this novel is its structure; a fast-paced collage of the various storylines.

These short, punchy sections show a kaleidoscope of the anxious minds of Noah and his family, echoing how it can feel to have OCD and live around it.

“My work wasn’t ever going to be to make the reader feel comfortable,” Fisher admits. But what an interesting ride she has created.

Readers will cheer for Noah as they develop sympathy for the unsympathetic, and take delight in minor characters, including the fabulous and bold Willa, who Noah meets in rehab.

However, the true heroine is Noah’s little sister Maddie, who is both a warrior and friend to her brother.

Fisher explains: “She knows what her job is: to be – and remain – a happy, sunshine child. That places a large burden on young shoulders.”

A book of this complex nature, both in subject matter and structure, required heavy research along with many drafts: “First person, third person, past tense, present tense … poor old Noah has been through so many incarnations,” says Fisher.

Yet the finished product reads smoothly, creating an experience and an empathy that lingers. @ms_tiahmarie

Book details

Dan Wiley's Intimate Lightning is the first book-length study of the difficult and elusive poet, Sydney Clouts

About the book:

Intimate Lightning is the first book-length study of a poet who, though still frequently anthologised, has fallen into some obscurity.

Yet Sydney Clouts (1926-1981) was acknowledged by many during his lifetime as the strongest poet of his generation, albeit a difficult and elusive one.

His Cape Town-inspired poetry fizzes with energy, an adventurous vivacity of image, a capacity for delight, an authentic humility, yet an authoritative sense of cerebral depth.

Reading Clouts attentively is still both a poetic delight and a heady intellectual challenge.

This study is biographically-framed, but is centrally an appreciation of the poetry: “The work is the thing!” Clouts himself urged.

The exploration is supported by interviews with family, friends and colleagues, but draws most importantly on archival sources: his letters, notebooks, and some 1700 pages of drafts that illuminate his methods.

It unpacks his essential themes, follows up his wide and eclectic reading, explores his relation to the troubled politics of the apartheid era, and offers an explanation of the poetry’s philosophical underpinnings. Intimate Lightning finally pays proper attention to a man who devoted himself unremittingly to poetry.

“It is politically and intellectually inappropriate to publish this book”

- Anonymous reviewer

About the author

Dan Wylie is Professor of English at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

Book details

Bekendstelling: Die Tronkgesprekke deur Willie Esterhuyse & Gerhard van Niekerk (24 November)

Dié boek onthul dat PW Botha reeds in 1984, te midde van die Totale Aanslag, in die geheim opdrag sou gee dat sy minister van justisie, Kobie Coetsee, gesprekke met Nelson Mandela in die tronk voer.

Mandela se aanhouding was toenemend ’n tameletjie vir die NP-regering. Wat as dié ikoon in die tronk sou sterf? Die land sou ontplof. Botha was desperaat.

Wedersydse respek ontwikkel mettertyd tussen Coetsee en Mandela, en die prisonier begin selfs sy eie vrylatingsproses grootliks bestuur.

Alles is hoogsgeheim.

PW Botha moes dit kon ontken as dit sou uitlek. Maar agter die skerms bou vertroue tussen die leiers van partye wat in die openbaar geswore vyande is.

Bekende skrywer en akademikus Willie Esterhuyse, self ten nouste betrokke by geheime onderhandelinge tussen die ANC en die NP-regering, vertel met medeskrywer Gerhard van Niekerk die verhaal van Coetsee en Mandela se “voorpunt”-diplomasie, waarsonder die 1994-oorgang nie moontlik sou gewees het nie.

Listen: Vanessa Raphaely discusses Plus One on SmileFM's Tea Time with Bailey


‘Outside, in the road, behind what looks like some hastily erected barricades, I see a crowd.’

Television cameras. Lights. Paparazzi. Press photographers.

They’ve materialised out of nowhere. What looks like over a hundred locals and tourists are peering into every car leaving this area. Crowding against the car doors, pushing cameras up against the windows. Jostling. Screaming. Shouting. In all my anxiety, hard- nosed journalist that I’m not, during the hours spent shifting around in the plastic seat in the waiting room I had somehow not understood the enormity of this story.’

As deputy editor of the glamorous FILLE magazine in London, Lisa Lassiter had almost passed up the chance of a weekend on a billionaire’s yacht off the coast of Mykonos.

But her best friend Claudia Hemmingway, on her way to becoming one of the hottest movie stars on the planet, could be very persuasive when she wanted something.

Not only would they get there by private jet, she’d told Lisa, they would also get to rub shoulders with VIP guests – not least a famous Hollywood film producer. It would be a weekend of fun, sunshine, champagne and partying. And it was all of those things. Until it wasn’t.

Lisa has spent ten years trying to get past that weekend. If she has learnt anything, it is that unfinished business and secrets always work their way to the surface. Moving on is one thing; forgetting is another, and forgiving … well, where to start?
Vanessa recently discussed her debut novel with Bailey Schneider. Listen to their conversation here!

Book details

Launch: The Woman in the Blue Cloak by Deon Meyer (15 November)

The Woman in the Blue Cloak is a brilliant novella which will thrill and entertain fans of Deon Meyer’s much-loved detective Benny Griessel.

Benny Griessel is a cop on a mission: he plans to ask Alexa Bernard to marry him. That means he needs to buy an engagement ring – and that means he needs a loan.

So Benny has a lot on his mind when he is called to a top-priority murder case. A woman’s body is discovered, naked and washed in bleach, draped on a wall beside a picturesque road above Cape Town. The identity of the victim is a mystery, as is the reason for her killing.

Gradually, Benny and his colleague Vaughn Cupido begin to work out the roots of the story, which reach as far away as England and Holland… and as far back as the seventeenth century.

Event Details

PEN SA to present the 2018 Day of the Imprisoned Writer on 15 November

PEN South Africa, in collaboration with the Institute for Creative Arts, will present the 2018 Day of the Imprisoned Writer on Thursday, 15 November (5:30 PM) at Hiddingh Hall, Hiddingh Campus, University of Cape Town.

Writers will give readings and presentations in solidarity with jailed artists around the world on this notable day.


Click here for more on authors featured on the programme and the cases of the five incarnated artists to be commemorated.